Another wonderful day in Bogotá. I realized this morning for the first time that the sun comes up really early here, around 6am. The light shines in my window and given my earlier bedtimes of 9:30 or 10pm, I actually feel almost ready to crawl out of bed when the sun comes up. Unreal, I know.
Today I spent part of the day in another impoverished neighborhood of Bogotá known as San Nicolás. Because it took almost 2 hours to get out there, my work didn't really begin until 10am but it quickly became crazy. In two hours, I did brief physical exams on 25 children and 2 adults. My findings? Lots of malnutrition, runny noses, earwax and smiles. And one possible case of chicken pox which has apparently been going around down here. I assigned a 12 year old boy named Jaison to be my photographer for the morning and he proceeded to take his assignment quite seriously, taking some 140 photos on my camera. Here are some of the pictures:
Sometime around noon, the program coordinator Adaia pulled me away from the kids, shoved a plate of chickpeas and rice into my hands, and shuffled me upstairs where a group of some twenty women were eagerly waiting for a presentation on breast and vaginal health. The discussion was lively and the women were quick to participate with questions and stories.
A couple hours later, the women began to depart and we started shutting down the operation about 2:30pm. Why so early you might ask? Well today happened to be game day, and around 5pm Colombia would be playing Uruguay for a position in the World Cup. Apparently, when it's game day, the whole nations shuts down or, as Adaia put it, becomes “paralyzed.” Businesses close, children leave school early, traffic ceases, and the cafes, bars and sidewalks turn into a sea of yellow jerseys. Essentially, we had to leave San Nicolás early if we had any hope of catching a “buseta” back into town.
Let me pause here to give a little description of these busetas. As we piled into one on our way out of San Nicolás, I couldn't help but notice the driver's multi-tasking capabilities. I've often been chided in my car for driving a stick shift while eating an ice cream cone or talking on the phone. This driver was singlehandedly (ok, using both his hands) driving a standard transmission bus of some 20 people, stopping abruptly to let people on and off, AND working the cash register- providing change as people handed him bills and coins. And we think we have a texting and driving problem in the States? Watching this driver helped me clarify again why it is so terrifying to be a pedestrian crossing streets in Bogotá- drivers DO NOT stop just because you happen to be walking across the street. Probably because they're too busy making change.
Back to gameday. Upon arriving home with Maria Ines, we found Daniela in a stressed state about the impending game. We made an executive decision that it might be more fun to go out and have a beer while watching the game rather than piling on the bed in the bedroom in front of the TV. So, the three of us set off on foot to find a place to do just that. Easier said then done. Every place Maria Ines and Daniela had in mind was full with people pouring out the doors into the streets. Reminded me a bit of the Ohio State campus area on game day. Finally, we found a hidden bar with some empty tables and a questionably drunk bartender. Over some Colombian beer, chips and peanuts, we watched Colombia promptly lose to Uruguay 2-0.
Disappointed, we returned home to find Andrea waiting and decided now would be the perfect time to have a little dance party in the living room (have I mentioned these girls are my kind of women?). Merengue, salsa, cumbia, and even a little Texas two-stepping ensued.
Like I said, another wonderful day. I am so blessed.
Colombian words of the day:
“pola”= beer (or chela in Mexico)
“charro/a”= appearing bored or lazy
“jartar”= a more vulgar word for drinking
“gomela” o “play”= stuck-up/snobby